Termites & Tires

If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.
-Eleanor Roosevelt-

Between falling in the dirt, cramping in the gym, and waiting patiently for support on the road; life has very much been about enjoying the ‘flavor’ that comes with being alive. Sometimes that flavor isn’t the sweetest, but also at times we need that tartness to awaken us from the mundane existence that we have become so accustom to.

I am guilty of the latter.

Moment of honesty; I have a comfortable life. My wife and I both have stellar jobs, we live next to a lake just outside of a metropolitan area, I am on summer vacation, we run around in the woods for fun, and for the most part financially we are doing alright.

That is an easy way of life to accept. Coming from a past of uncertainty, to find a step in life that goes with the flow, doesn’t require much thinking, and has specific set circumstances and “if then” theories that prove true can be easily appealing. I firmly believe anyone and everyone doesn’t necessarily desire it, but few complain when the offer is presented.

With that noted; I’ve also come to a conclusion that God is not in the business of comfort. Here me out; I’m not saying God doesn’t do the whole, “eternal life, Father’s house, etc…” bit well, but I don’t really believe He is in the business of being comfortable on this planet. I checked His blueprints, I could not find anything that support that theory. In fact, I found nothing but the opposite. Almost a warning of what to expect of this world.

Knowing this; the previous several weeks have not come as much of a surprise, but more of a reminder of the place that I currently call home, is anything but stable. The easy route is to note the sociopolitical tendencies in current affairs, or even easier, scrolling through comments on Facebook. However, internally, personally it comes more in the form of struggling to finish a race, knocking out two vehicles with two tow trucks, and ending the experience with an educational lesson on termites.

Last weekend I signed up for a free race on gravel roads in Nebraska. I am not the fastest person in the world, but I definitely expected myself to be able to handle 18 miles on a reminder of why the Great Plains is…plain. It was a struggle from the beginning. It wasn’t just physical, it was the mental struggle. I struggled up each hill, I fell down each hill, I wanted to be done by mile three. At mile twelve I was holding back internal sobbing from just frustration. My mind plays forth concepts of running hundreds of miles, at once. That is my dream, and struggling on a half-marathon is so, so bitter to swallow. The trail running community talks a lot about not comparing ourselves to each other, 18766429_1423783314326578_3240258810271424873_obecause once you’re at a specific distance it truly is you versus yourself. Hearing that and believing that are two very different things though. I beat myself into a mentally bruised pile of failure for the last three miles of the race. I walked two of the last three miles, I shuffled the last mile…pitifully. I heard the voices, the, “Why bother?”, the “See, you’ll never be an athlete.”, the “This is why you are not a runner.”, and the most painful, “You’re just a fraud compared to everyone else.” The mental struggles on that race put me in a horrible spot. Something that, if I am being honest, I am still trying to rebound from. I finished, and that is 19 more miles compared to where I would have been a year ago, but mentally it still felt like a failure.

The race experience had been set at the stage level by vehicles. While the two things don’t seem connected; my wife and I drive throughout the region for trails. We also depend on our vehicles for work. We are fortunate to have three vehicles; two of three that have been long paid off. With that said, the age of our vehicles are beginning to show. It started with her car, the thermostat becoming stuck, and her losing all of her antifreeze on the interstate coming from from…you guessed it…a group run. That placed us at 2/3 vehicles; not knowing what to do with her car because it would require another tow to go from our house (current location) to a garage for repairs. This was further escalated when a day prior to my race as noted above the front left tire of my truck completely blew out due to dry rot and age. This also resulted in a tow job, four new tires, and a rush to get up to Nebraska that night for the race. Additionally, we had decided to take my truck camping in the coming weeks with our pop-up camper. Meaning, it had to handle the Ozark Highlands, weight behind it, and not have any issues. Factor in the 276000 miles on the vehicle, and you can understand the nerves that are associated with each time the key is turned. After the tires came an oil change…and also came a broken serpentine belt. Anyone knows that the costs continue to increase with this story. Thankfully, the truck is running in immaculate condition since the money has been spent.

Finally, days away from heading out of a town for a few days on a family vacation we noted our neighbor (duplex) tearing sheetrock out of his garage. Upon further inquiry, we discovered that he had found termites in his walls. Our places are connected; you can imagine the panic. Especially later that night when I was in our basement and I found saw dust and such falling out of our window sills. This led to me pulling off our trim to find a colony of carpenter ants (thankfully no termites) carving through our windows. Now, the trim has been ripped off, I have exterminated the ants, and all is left is window foam, and reattach. Additionally, the termite exterminator is coming in next week for the whole building. This is the first time, as an adult, I’ve been faced with ‘adult issues’ in relation to where we live. It is true that currently we have a landlord that we can lean on, but that time is growing shorter and shorter by the week.

I suppose, while typing this, the easier route is to complain about the level of comfort decreasing in my life in the past month. However, while typing this I see our cats sleeping peacefully on our living room chairs, my wife taking a nap on the couch after working from 5:30 AM to 2:00 PM today, and noting that I’m wearing shorts because our air conditioning is on. Later I’ll hop in our car and drive to a group run starting at 7:00 PM our in Kansas. The honesty is recognizing that we are still blessed with an incredibly comfortable life, one that makes it sinful to complain when it does not function in the way that one desires.

Even more so; all of this was a great reminder for myself that being stationary, being comfortable, being content in my mind is still dangerous. If I am content within this world, does that mean I am on the pathway that I should be on?

Shawn

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